Kaz’s Korner: Houston Texans lead AFC South going into weekend
Texans Have Come A Long Way
The Houston Texans looked anything like a possible playoff-bound team during the first two months of the season when they started off at 2-5, which included two games where they trailed by more than 40 points before halftime.
To say “they’ve come a long way baby” would almost be an understatement as the Texans enter the final week of the 2015 National Football League season in first place in the AFC South Division with an 8-7 record and optimistically look forward to qualifying for the playoffs for the first time under Head Coach Bill O’Brien.
They could have used the assistance of a Cincinnati victory over Denver Monday night or a Tennessee upset over Indianapolis on Sunday or, better yet, just beat Jacksonville Sunday at NRG Stadium to claim the division championship that will guarantee Houston a home playoff game Jan. 9 or Jan. 10.
The outcome of the final Monday Night Football game between Cincinnati and Denver was important to the Texans because of the obscure “strength of schedule” tie-breaker that would separate them from Indianapolis, even if both teams finish 8-8, according to Monday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle.
“We have to play to win,” O’Brien told the Associated Press after Sunday’s 34-6 victory over Tennessee. “I think the bottom line is we need to win. I don’t think we can look at any scenario—this scenario, that scenario—I believe that we just need to play to win.”
Inside linebacker Brian Cushing believes the Texans have taken on the personality of O’Brien—tough, focused, resilient and confident.
Cornerback Johnathan Joseph referred to O’Brien as a “great coach” that players want to follow.
The Texans have blazed a trail of difficulty to get to where they are today, going through four quarterbacks—all of whom have posted at least one Houston victory—losing their star running back and still remaining focused enough to contend for a playoff spot.
Last week the Texans obtained a fifth quarterback—B.J Daniels—from the Seattle Seahawks to back up Weeden while waiting for Brian Hoyer to be cleared from his concussion protocol from an independent neurologist.
Houston finished 4-4 on the road, beating all three South Division opponents on the road for the first time in franchise history.
They lucked out on their current quarterback Brandon Weeden who was fetched out of the Dallas Cowboys’ scrap heap when back-up T. J. Yates went down with a knee injury just about the same time Tony Romo returned from his broken collarbone.
Weeden took over for Yates and threw the winning touchdown to enable the Texans to win at Indianapolis for the first time, then did a fantastic job Sunday against the Tennessee Titans (34-6) for his first NFL win as a starting quarterback since he led the Cleveland Browns past Kansas City 30-7 on Dec. 9, 2012.
It also was the first road victory for Weeden since he led the Browns to a 20-17 win over the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 2, 2012.
Weeden also scored his first career rushing touchdown Sunday at Tennessee to become the first Texans quarterback in franchise history with two touchdowns passing and one rushing in the same game, according the Chronicle.
And Weeden’s 116.7 quarterback rating Sunday was a career high as a starter with the Browns, Cowboys and Texans.
The 34-0 lead the Texans held before Tennessee scored with 2:08 left in the game equaled the largest in franchise history.
KWICKIES…The NFL’s hottest team was one of the latest to clinch a playoff spot as the sizzling Kansas City Chiefs became the first team since 1970 to start a season at 1-5 and then earn a playoff berth. The Cincinnati Bengals started the 1970 season at 1-7 and got into the playoffs that year.
Without an NFL-caliber quarterback or running back, the Dallas Cowboys simply can’t seem to find the victory column very often, although they are in most of the losing games until late in the fourth quarter. Sunday they played Buffalo tight until 2:25 was left in the game when the Bills scored to put the game on ice 16-6. But the Pokes’ defense surrendered a whopping 236 yards on the ground which had something to do with the defense finally wearing down. The loss was the tenth in 11 games without the services of injured starting quarterback Tony Romo.
The Seattle Seahawks lost both of their games this season to divisional rival St. Louis, after running off five straight victories before Sunday’s 23-17 loss to the Rams, who seem to have Seattle’s number this year. Fortunately, the Seahawks already had secured an NFC wild card, but instead of being the No. 5 seed, the loss dropped them to No. 6 after the Minnesota Vikings humiliated the New York Giants 49-17 Sunday night.
Sunday was a great day for quarterbacks who have worn the Houston Texans’ uniform in the past two seasons. Four signal callers led their present teams to victory Sunday—Brian Weeden directed the Texans to an easy 34-6 win over Tennessee; Ryan Fitzpatrick of the New York Jets led his team to a 26-20 overtime win over New England; Ryan Mallett was the Baltimore Ravens’ winning quarterback in their 20-17 upset win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and Case Keenum propelled his St. Louis Rams to a 23-17 upset victory over the Seahawks in Seattle.
JUST BETWEEN US. Here’s wishing all you readers a very Happy and Prosperous 2016!!!